We are weeks away from real games taking place in Major League Baseball, and as the league starts to prepare itself for games, the players adjust to the new norm that is a shortened baseball season during a pandemic.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the major stories from the last week.
Tanaka Injured At Yankees Practice
During a simulated game at a New York Yankees’ practice Saturday, starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka had to leave after taking a line drive to the head off the bat of teammate Giancarlo Stanton. The scary situation resulted in Tanaka going to the hospital and being placed in concussion protocol
However, on a good note, Tanaka was released from the hospital later that night.
While Gerrit Cole was signed to be the ace of the staff, Tanaka has been a stable workhorse in the Yankees’ rotation for years. Last year, Tanaka went 11-9 in 32 games (31 starts). In that time, he threw 182 innings, striking out 149 and accumulating a 4.45 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.
Tanaka is slated to be a free agent at season’s end. While the Yankees certainly have options behind him, it would create a significant void to the top of the rotation if he is out for an extended amount of time.
As of right now, the Yankees have the second-best odds to win the World Series in the shortened season at +400, only trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers (+380).
Price To Sit Out 2020 Season
Speaking of the Dodgers, their starting rotation took a bit of a hit this week. David Price, who was just acquired alongside Mookie Betts this offseason, has decided to forego the 2020 season due to health concerns amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams was the first to report of Price’s decision to sit out the season. By making this decision, Price will give up approximately $11.9 million for the season; however, with $64 million still left on his contract over the next two years, money was likely not a factor in his decision.
Last season, in 22 games (107 1/3 innings), Price went 7-5 with a 4.28 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and struck out 128 batters. With a lost season of Price and a shortened season of Betts, the trade that netted the Red Sox Alex Verdugo, among others, is looking better and better for Boston.
For Los Angeles, with Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler still in the mix, their +380 odds for the World Series will likely remain intact, but the veteran experience of Price will certainly be missed.
Price Not The Only One Sitting Out
While Price is probably the biggest name to announce he is sitting out this season, he certainly isn’t the only one. Others, including Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman, have declared 2020 a no-go, and on Saturday, another veteran made the same decision.
The Braves’ Felix Hernandez has also announced his intentions to sit out the 2020 season. While Hernandez is not as entrenched on his team as others after coming off a dismal year, he had made the 60-man roster for the Braves. Instead, the Braves will have to look elsewhere, and a bounce-back season for Hernandez will have to wait until next year at the earliest.
More Players Test Positive For COVID-19
Despite the haggling between the players and the league over a return to play, the biggest deterrent to a season continues to be the coronavirus pandemic itself. As players are reporting and being tested, more and more positive results are being exposed.
Of the most recent wave of positive COVID-19 tests, Freddie Freeman (Braves) and Salvador Perez (Royals) are two of the biggest names.
For Freeman, he is coming off a season where he batted .295/.389/.549 with 38 home runs, 121 runs batted in and 113 runs scored. The 30-year-old is a cornerstone to the Braves’ chances to win the World Series, which currently sit at +1400 (fourth overall).
Granted, assuming that all goes right, Freeman will likely rejoin the club after quarantining, but it is these types of positive tests that might also lead more players to sit out the season.
For Perez, last season was a lost year due to injury, and now his return will have to wait a bit longer. Like Freeman, he should be able to return sooner than later (it was reported that he was asymptomatic), but it is just another example of the exposure to the virus that these major leaguers must grapple with.
The Royals are a huge longshot to have any success this year as they are currently at +30000 to win the World Series.